AIHL action finally returns to our lives this coming weekend. 2015 promises to be the best season to date.
Just who will take home the Goodall Cup is a point of much conjecture at this time of the year which is mostly because we have nothing else to talk about.
Most projections are based on previous years, knowledge of local player movement and at best sometimes sketchy information on new imports. That doesn’t stop us however and here are my predictions for the final ladder positions come the end of the regular season on the 23rd of August.
Here’s my go at it.
1. CBR Brave – the Cinderella story of 2014 in the nations capital looks set to continue. Adding to an impressive squad that made the finals a year ago, Brave have recruited former Ice Dogs trio David Dunwoodie, Tyler Kubara and Thomas Manco which will add a great deal of local depth to their squad. Key import from last season Stephen Blunden is returning to cause headaches for net-minders all around the land.
2. Melbourne Mustangs – the defending champs will be there or thereabouts once again. Import stability with Pat O’Kane returning for a third season and Viktor Gibbs Sjodin for a second go around in the AIHL, along with a core group of young local players have the Mustangs primed for another title run.
3. Perth Thunder – 2014 did not go the way Perth expected, coming off a finals appearance in 2013 where thye gave a good account of themselves. Coaching and import changes abounded, a repeat of which coach-cum General Manager Stan Scott will be keen to avoid. Much will depend on the arrival and form of the imports to provide support for the strong core of local players that drove the Thunder to the finals in 2013.
4. Melbourne Ice – anyone writing off the Melbourne Ice do so at their own peril. They are not winners of three of the past five Goodall Cups and last year’s runners up for no reason. In some ways they have set the foundation for the Mustangs to follow in terms of long-term imports and a core group of local players who have come through together. Will time finally start catching up with them? Not this year for mine, however the continued development players such as Austin McKenzie will be well worth watching.
5. Newcastle North Stars – surprisingly missed the finals last year and this year under new coach Andrew Petrie from the Sydney Ice Dogs, I have them as missing again, however it will be a tight race from positions 1-5, possibly down to 3 or less competition points in the final analysis. Have recruited Ice Dogs Goodall Cup winner Robert Malloy, however this is offset by the loss of Adam Geric, who has been a vital cog in the North Star machine.
6. Sydney Bears – a good recruiting drive that sees import Tomas Landa return and a number of AJIHL prospects to the club, the Bears seem like a rejuvenated club after their move back out to Penrith, the rumored home of the 2015 AIHL Finals. Much will depend on their imports however, which has seen a complete turnover from last season. If they got their import recruitment right, they could be pushing for a spot in those finals. Making the Wilson Cup final was a good start.
7. Adelaide Adrenaline – the news out of Adelaide to date has been minimal, however they have signed young goalie Charlie Smart from Perth. They have missed the finals the past two years and its hard to see that changing this year.
8. Sydney Ice Dogs – where do we start with the fall from grace that is the 2013 Goodall Cup champions. Its well known the turmoil that has surrounded the Ice Dogs, which has resulted in most of the 2013 squad and the coaches of the past two seasons departing. This has the club in rebuilding mode with plenty of AJIHL and ECSL players being added to the squad. They must look to how the Mustangs and Thunder were able to build squads that were contenders in a short space of time. Critical year for the club.